Regulations surrounding drones have evolved since the remote flying devices have been made available to the general public, and now ESPN reports that a man has been charged with running afoul of those regulations by flying his drone over an NFL stadium.
Tracy Michael Mapes was charged with violating national defense airspace regulations, according to a release by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General. He’s accused of flying a drone over Levi’s Stadium and Oakland Coliseum during NFL games in November 2017 and using it to distribute anti-media leaflets to the crowds. Most of those leaflets reportedly blew out of the stadiums on what was a rainy, windy day. Neither game was interrupted.
Regulations prohibit operating a drone within five miles of an airport — and both stadiums fall within that range.
From AB: Understanding the Latest FAA Drone Regulations
ESPN reports that surveillance footage tracked Mapes as he left Levi’s Stadium, and that Santa Clara police notified their counterparts in Oakland of the incident believing Mapes would go there next.
Mapes was arrested after Oakland police spotted his drone over the Coliseum.
If Mapes is convicted on the charges brought by federal authorities, he could face penalties of up to a year in prison or fines of $100,000.